Khasas (Devanāgarī: खश; Khaśa) were an ancient Indo-Aryan tribe from northern Indian subcontinent mentioned in the various historical Indian inscriptions and ancient Indian Hindu and Tibetan literatures. They were reported to have lived around Gandhara, Trigarta and Madra Kingdom.

Tribes and nations in the ancient Epic Map of India; Khasas are described to have lived around Gandhara, Trigarta and Madra Kingdom

People of this tribe includes Khas people of medieval Western Nepal, medieval Indian regions of Garhwal and Kumaon and Himachal zone as well as Khakha Rajputs of Kashmir different part of northern Pakistan and some of Pamir Mountain range.

Names and variantsEdit

The original spelling for the name in Sanskrit literature is Khaśa (Sanskrit: खश) while variants of name also used are Khasa (खस), Khaṣa (खष) and Khaśīra (खशीर).[1] Kushan(कुशान), and Saka (शक).

Indian sourcesEdit

Pre-historic literatureEdit

The Manusmṛiti mentions the Khaśa as Kṣatriya-s formerly, due to omission of the sacred-rites and neglect of Brāhmaṇā-s.[2]

शनकैस्तु क्रियालोपादिमाः क्षत्रियजातयः ।

वृषलत्वं गता लोके ब्राह्मणादर्शनेन च ॥ ४३ ॥

But by the omission of the sacred rites, and also by their neglect of Brāhmaṇas, the following Kṣatriya castes have gradually sunk to the position of the low-born.—(43)

पौण्ड्रकाश्चौड्रद्रविडाः काम्बोजा यवनाः शकाः ।

पारदापह्लवाश्चीनाः किराता दरदाः खशाः ॥ ४४ ॥

The Puṇḍrakas, the Coḍas, the Draviḍas, the Kāmbojas, the Yavanas, the Śākas, the Pāradas, the Pahlavas, the Cīnas, the Kirātas, the Daradas and the Khaśas.—(44)

The Shukraniti mentions that

People born in Khasa region take the wife of their brother if she has lost her husband. By these acts they do not attract atonement or restraint.

खशजाताः प्रगृह्यन्ति भ्रातृभार्य्यामभर्तृकाम् । अनेन कर्मणा नैते प्रायश्चित्तदमार्हकाः ॥ ४-५-५१ ॥

Medhātithi, the 8th century commentator of the Manusmṛiti says "Some people might be led to think that all these races here named are found to be described as Kṣatriyas, so that they must be Kṣatriyas still. And it is with a view to preclude this idea that it is asserted that these are low-born." [3]

[4] The Bhagavata Purana gives a list of various outcast tribes, the Khaśas also one of them, which have recovered salvation by adopting the religion of Viṣṇu Vaishnavism.[4] The Mahabharata mentions the Khasas as one of the northern tribes who fought on the side of the Kaurava against Satyaki.[5] In the Karna Parva of Mahabharata, Khasas are mentioned living in the Panjab region between Āraṭṭa and Vasāti:

prasthalā Madra-Gandhāra Āraṭṭa nāmatah Khaśāh Vasāti Sindhu-sauvīrā[1]

In the Sabhaparvan of the Mahabharata, they are mentioned between Meru and Mandara along with Kulindas and Tanganas.[6] In Dronaparvan of the Mahabharata, they are mentioned with other northwestern tribes such as Daradas, Tanganas, Lampakas and Kulindas.[4] The Vaishnava text Harivamsa describes that the Khasas were defeated by the King Sagara.[7][4] The Markandeya Purana states that the Khasa is a country against the mountain. The Markandeya Purana, Vayu Purana and Kalki Purana describes that Khasas together with Sakas and other tribes have penetrated to the northwest of India.[4] The Skanda Purana mentions the region of Himachal Pradesh and Kumaon-Garhwal as Kedare-Khasa-Mandale.[8]

Medieval literatureEdit

Kashmir valley seen from space; "..the valley lying to the south and west of the Pir Panjal Range (white) which is surrounded by Jhelum river) in the west and Kishtwar in the east" as the expanse of Khasas as per the Nilamata Purana

The Brihat Samhita authored by Indian polymath Varāhamihira grouped Khasas with Kulutas, Kashmiras, Tanganas, and Kunatas.[4] The Mudrarakshasa of Indian poet Vishakhadatta mentions that Khasas and Magadhas were Ganas (troops) in the army of Rakshasa and Malayaketu.[4] According to an ancient Kashmiri text Nilamata Purana compiled by Indian scholar Ved Kumari Ghai, the Khasa tribe occupied

"the valley to the south and west of the Pir Pantsal range between the middle course of the Vitasta (modern Jhelum river) in the west and Kastavata (modern Kishtwar) in the east."[9][10]

This assertion is also corroborated by the later 12th century text Rajatarangini translated by British archaeologist Sir Marc Aurel Stein.[7] The Bharata Nātyaśāstra by the Indian musicologist Bharata Muni mentions that the mother tongue language of Khaśas was Bāhliki language in the phrase

"Bāhlikabhāśodhīchyanāṃ Khaśāṇāṃ ca svadeśajā." (Translation : The Bahliki language is the native tongue of the Northerners and Khasas.)[4]

The Kavyamimamsa of Rajashekhara mentions the Kuluta king with the title Khasadhipati.[11] The inscription of Dadda II (also known as Praśāntarāga) mentions about the Khasas in the phrase "...Yascopamiyate - sat - kataka - samunnata vidhyadharavasa taya Himachale na Khasa parivarataya."[12] A Jain literature Vasudevahindi by Sanghadasa narrates the travel of a merchant named Charudatta in the countries of Khasas, Hunas and Cinas. He further locates them at the northeastern direction of Indus river.[11]

European sourcesEdit

Roman Geographer Pliny noted that

The mountain races between the Indus and the Jomanes are the Cesi, the Catriboni who dwell in the forest.[13]

E.T. Atkinson speculated that Pliny referred the terms, Cesi and Catriboni to Khasa and Kshatriya.[13] Greek Geographer Ptolemy contended that the country of Khasas (referred as 'Khasia') was located near the Trans-Himalayan range of Northwest India.[13]

Tibetan sourcesEdit

The Mongolian-Tibetan historian Sumpa Yeshe Peljor (writing in the 18th century) lists the Khasas alongside other peoples found in Central Asia since antiquity, including the Yavanas (Greeks), Kambojas, Tukharas, Hunas and Daradas.[14][15]


Irish linguist Sir G.A. Grierson asserted that "..the great mass of the Aryan speaking population of the lower Himalaya from Kashmir to Darjeeling is inhabited by tribes descended from the ancient Khasas of Mahabharata."[7]

Khasas under KatyurisEdit

Several temples in Uttarakhand are attributed to the Katyuri Kings.

The Katyuris were of the Khasha origin as agreed by most scholars.[16] They belonged to the Khasha people that entirely dominated the inner Himalayan belt upto Nepal[17] and they extensively populated the mountainous regions of Uttarakhand.[16] Previously, Khashas had strongly established themselves from Afghanistan to Nepal from ancient period and as per internal evidences, they managed the village level theocratic republics like Gram-Rajya and Mandals under various local clans and identities.[16] Katyuri was one of the ruling houses of Joshimath that claimed the sovereignty over other Gram Rajyas of the entire territory.[18] The Katyuris ruled from Joshimath in the Alaknanda Valley and later they shifted their capital to Baijnath.[19]

Khasas under Malla ruleEdit

Sinja Valley, capital of Khas Mallas where earliest Devanagari scripts from the 13th century[20]

Khasas are thought to be connected to the medieval Khasa Malla kingdom and the modern Khas people of Nepal.[21] The modern Khas people of Nepal have also been connected with the ancient Khasas, although their period of migration in Nepal remains ambiguous.[22] In Nepal the Khas people first settled around present day Humla and Jumla. The Khasa kings of Nepal formed the famous Malla Kingdom, which ruled Humla from the eleventh century before collapsing and splintering into local chiefdoms during the fourteenth century.[23] The Khasas (identified with Khasa Mallas) are also mentioned in several Indian inscriptions dated between 8th and 13th centuries CE.[12] The 954 AD Khajuraho Inscription of Dhaṇga states Khasa kingdom equivalent to Gauda of Bengal and Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty. The Nalanda inscription of Devapala and Bhagalpur; copper plate of Narayanapala also mentions about Khasas. The three copper plates from Pandukeshavara explains the territories of Khasas.[12]

Khasas of KashmirEdit

Rajapuri (Rajouri), the seat of the lord of the Khasas in present day Jammu and Kashmir, India

The 12th-century text Rajatarangini translated by British archaeologist Sir Marc Aurel Stein links the Khasas with northwestern affiliations. It describes at

Immediately at the foot of Banahal Pass in the territory of Visalata, we find a castle of a Khasa lord who gave shelter to Bhiksacara[note 1] and the time was evidently independent.[25]

Rajatarangini describes the rulers of Rajapuri (modern Rajauri) as the "lord of the Khasas".[12][9] It also describes the chiefs of the Lohara as Khasas.[26][12][27] The Khasa chiefs of Rajapuri freely intermarried with Kshatriya rulers of Kashmir while the Khasa chief of Lohara, Simharaja, married a daughter of Shahi Kings of Kabul.[12] The descendants of the royal family of Rajauri later became Muslim Rajput chiefs and they retained the rulership of the territory till 19th century.[26] Stein also identified the modern Khakhas as descendants of Khasas mentioned in the Rajatarangini.[12][26]

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ Bhiksacara was the grandson of King Harsha of Kashmir who escaped the Uchchala's revolt in which he killed Harsha and usurped the throne. Bhiksacara was brought up by Naravarman, the king of Malava and later he deposed Sussala, Uchchala's brother and ruler of Lohara.[24]


  1. ^ a b Thakur 1990, p. 285.
  2. ^ (2016-12-29). "Manusmriti Verse 10.44". Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  3. ^ (2016-12-29). "Manusmriti Verse 10.44". Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Thakur 1990, p. 286.
  5. ^ Saklani 1998, p. 70.
  6. ^ Thakur 1990, pp. 285–286.
  7. ^ a b c Saklani 1998, p. 71.
  8. ^ Thakur 1990, pp. 288–289.
  9. ^ a b Sharma 2019, p. 706.
  10. ^ Kumari, Ved (1968), The Nīlamata purāṇa, Volume 1, J. & K. Academy of Art, Culture and Languages; [sole distributors: Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi
  11. ^ a b Thakur 1990, p. 289.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g Thakur 1990, p. 287.
  13. ^ a b c Adhikary 1997, p. 28.
  14. ^ Sumpa Yeshe Peljor's 18th century work Dpag-bsam-ljon-bzah (Tibetan title) may be translated as "The Excellent Kalpavriksha"): "Tho-gar yul dań yabana dań Kambodza dań Khasa [sic] dań Huna dań Darta dań..."
  15. ^ Pag-Sam-Jon-Zang (1908), I.9, Sarat Chandra Das; Ancient Kamboja, 1971, p 66, H. W. Bailey.
  16. ^ a b c Handa 2002, p. 22.
  17. ^ Handa 2002, pp. 24–25.
  18. ^ Handa 2002, p. 24.
  19. ^ Handa 2002, pp. 26–28.
  20. ^ Sinja valley – UNESCO World Heritage Centre
  21. ^ Kumar Pradhan (1984). A History of Nepali Literature. Sahitya Akademi. p. 5.
  22. ^ Witzel, Dr. Michael (1976). "On the History and the Present State of Vedic Tradition in Nepal". Vasudha. 15 (12): 17–24, 35–39.
  23. ^ Kelly, Thomas L.; Dunham, V. Carroll (March 2001). Hidden Himalayas (PDF). New York: Abbeville Press. ISBN 9780789207227. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-03-24. Retrieved 2016-06-14.
  24. ^ Stein 1900a, pp. 133–138.
  25. ^ Stein 1900b, p. 432.
  26. ^ a b c Stein 1900b, p. 433.
  27. ^ Mohan 1981, p. 28.